SOAS to end out-sourcing in major win for the J4W movement

SOAS has agreed to bring all its core support workers in-house by September 2018, the school announced on Friday in an e-mail sent to all its students.

The announcement has brought forward by 12 months existing plans to self-deliver cleaning services by 2019, according to a letter sent by the University to the Student’s Union. It also extends the changes to apply to all of its core services staff; including catering, security and various other essential support staff. Overall this will bring in house more than 120 workers who currently are outsourced.

Under this agreement, all workers will be entitled to “equal terms and conditions with existing SOAS employees”, including sick pay, pensions and holidays. The changes will apply to all outsourced staff regardless of whether they are employed full-time, part-time, or on casual contracts.

The announcement has been declared a victory for the Justice for Workers (J4W) campaigners. It follows 11 years of struggle and campaigning to end outsourcing and defend workers’ rights at SOAS. The student-led platform has organised demonstrations and a series of occupations as part of their campaign. The last of these protests, an occupation that took place last June, ended with a declaration from the campaigners stating that “our [J4W campaigners’] patience is over”, and has been crucial for the success of the movement.

As part of the process, the university has agreed to terminate its contracts with Elior and Bouygues, the companies that were providing catering and maintenance services, by the start of the 2018/2019 academic year, although the exact end date is yet to be determined. SOAS has made clear that the process will be phased and certain highly specialised services such as lift maintenance and waste management may remain externalised.

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